04 May 2012

Unlikely Influences

Today is one of those day that I wish I was a better writer.

Today is also a day that has made me look back at a time when a teenage girl in a sleepy northern Michigan town was desperately looking for something to hold onto and managed to be inspired by the most unlikely of characters and find what she was looking for in the most unlikely of places.

It frustrates me as a music fan to admit I never really understood the draw of the Beastie Boys. They always made me feel old well before my time by "all that noise that they made", but I respected what they contributed to music and the music industry. For me though, their reach and influence, specifically Adam Yauch, went well beyond the music.

I was 15 in the summer of 1996 when the first Tibetan Freedom Concert took place in San Francisco. I remember hearing about it on MTV. It was an interview with Adam Yauch and even though I don't remember what was said or even the specifics of the interview, it was enough to draw me in. I remember being fascinated by the cause and what it meant and who and what was the driving force behind it. I remember trying to get my hands on everything I could about Tibet (the culture, the people, everything), which admittedly wasn't much (this was pre-Google and a reliable internet connection) but it didn't matter. I was in love. There was something about it all that I understood, on a subconscious level and that I couldn't get out of my head. But more importantly, it was my first real introduction to Buddhism and to what it felt like to find a sense of peace in a time in my life when I was feeling everything but peaceful. In that one moment, my world changed and it changed for the better even if I didn't know it at the time.

Since that summer, Buddhism has been a constant, if not slightly sporadic element in my life (quite certain this will be a shock to many--I don't talk about it much). It keeps me grounded when my head is in chaos. It allows me to find a peace and calm within a world I don't understand. From mediation to studying what Buddha taught to reading the words of the Dahli Lama, it's a part of me that I would be lost without. And a part of me that I must thank Adam Yauch for helping me find.

While friends near and far are celebrating him for his music and his contributions, I will be silently dedicating tonight's meditation to him. There aren't enough thanks in the world to send him for what he unknowingly did for me.


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